VLJ Cessna Mustang: Half Way There
This week's press briefing on the status of the Cessna Mustang, might give you the impression that, yes, Cessna has certified a jet before -- and they're putting that experience to good use. The Mustang made its first public appearance at OSH this week and although decked out with a shiny production paint job, the interior is in rough-and-ready flight test configuration. Without naming names or pointing fingers, Cessna (accurately) pointed out that unlike other jet makers, it established a certification and production schedule when the airplane was announced (at NBAA in 2002) and by gum, it intends to deliver on time and on price. So far, it has, and Cessna elaborated on the details. Program director Russ Meyer III said the Mustang first flew on April 23 (Cessna promised a May 2005 first flight and beat that schedule) and has accumulated 167 hours in 90 flights. The Pratt & Whitney 615F engines continue to fly on both the Mustang and Cessna's testbed Citation, with 233 test hours flown. Meyer and engineer Jon Carr say the Mustang project is currently slightly ahead of schedule with about 50 percent of certification milestones complete, that includes expansion of the aircraft's flight envelope and airborne vibration testing. Similarly, the 615F engines are halfway through their cert hurdles, too, and the Garmin-designed autopilot is far enough along to have already been used in test flights.
With 240 orders on the books, Cessna says the Citation will be certified by the end of 2006 with first customer deliveries in the same time frame. When we asked about weight targets, Cessna says they're on track, too, with a fully-fueled payload of about 600 pounds, plus pilot, on a gross weight of about 7800 pounds. Cruise speed is said to be 340 knots.